- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Canada; First Edition edition (October 6, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140268693
- ISBN-13: 978-0140268690
- Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.9 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 378 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,561,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fermat's Enigma: Epic Quest To Solve The Worlds Greatest Mathematical Problem First Edition Edition
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When Andrew Wiles of Princeton University announced a solution of Fermat's last theorem in 1993 it electrified the world of mathematics. After a flaw was discovered in the proof, Wiles had to work for another year--he had already labored in solitude for seven years--to establish that he had solved the 350-year-old problem. Simon Singh's book is a lively, comprehensible explanation of Wiles's work and of the star-, trauma-, and wacko-studded history of Fermat's last theorem. Fermat's Enigma contains some problems that offer a taste for the math, but it also includes limericks to give a feeling for the goofy side of mathematicians. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
YAAThe riveting story of a mathematical problem that sprang from the study of the Pythagorean theorem developed in ancient Greece. The book follows mathematicians and scientists throughout history as they searched for new mathematical truths. In the 17th century, a French judicial assistant and amateur mathematician, Pierre De Fermat, produced many brilliant ideas in the field of number theory. The Greeks were aware of many whole number solutions to the Pythagorean theorem, where the sum of two perfect squares is a perfect square. Fermat stated that no whole number solutions exist if higher powers replace the squares in this equation. He left a message in the margin of a notebook that he had a proof, but that there was insufficient space there to write it down. His note was found posthumously, but the solution remained a mystery for 350 years. Finally, after working in isolation for eight years, Andrew Wiles, a young British mathematician at Princeton University, published a proof in 1995. Although this famous question has been resolved, many more remain unsolved, and new problems continually arise to challenge modern minds. This vivid account is fascinating reading for anyone interested in mathematics, its history, and the passionate quest for solutions to unsolved riddles. The book includes 19 black-and-white photos of mathematicians and occasional sketches of ancient mathematicians as well as diagrams of formulas. The illustrations help to humanize the subject and add to the readability.APenny Stevens, Centreville Regional Library, Centreville, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Some of these mathematicians committed suicide, some were killed at an early age (Galois, mathematical genius dead at 20), others had to disguise their gender (Sophie Germain) due to discrimination. It's very interesting to learn about each character.
Altogether a highly readable book on a journey to solving Fermat's Last Theorem.
I read it in about 3 days (it's 300 pages), and maybe 15 pages discuss math that I don't understand (modular forms and elliptic equations), but it's very minimal and doesn't get in the way. It was mostly about the lives of these mathematicians and their struggles.
If you are interested in learning about the lives of Pythagorus, Euclid, Euler, Gauss, Germain, Galois, Wiles, and countless others...Check it out.
On a side note I would love it if Simon Singh wrote a book on the history of evolution. He is a master at simplifying very complex subjects.
The story of the solving of Fermat's Last Theorem contains almost all of the features that draw us to read books in the first place. What is super-interesting is this: though the story takes place within the mathematics field, it contained elements of fraud, murder, suicide...all in the pursuit of a seemingly elusive proof, based on an equation that, at first glance, seems so simple. And because almost all of us are familiar with the Pythagorean Theorem from our school days, the fact that over 350 years and hundreds of different mathematicians were needed to come up with the elusive answer just makes the story that much more fascinating.
I now teach college mathematics and recently, noticed that one of my students was reading "Fermat's Enigma." It brought back fond memories and I desired to check it out again from the library to give the book another read. This time, it was not available...so I did what the student did: ordered my own copy from Amazon. It arrived today and I'm excited about having an entire weekend to once again visit the cast of characters and the engrossing saga that evolved over the centuries.
Fantastic read! And highly recommended!